Young UK ice lolly producer LICKALIX has, with the help and support of Ilapak, taken the bold step of moving to a compostable film to package its premium, organic and all-natural ice lollies made with real whole fruit.
The London-based family business set out to produce ice lollies which were much more than the standard “sugary water with colourings and other E-numbers”, explains co-founder Karis Gesua. “We came up with a concept for healthy, good-quality ice lollies, which are organic, use real whole fruit and are free from all the major allergens.”
Producing over a million ice lollies a year, the next stage in its development involves aligning its packaging with the sustainability and quality of its products. “Currently, we are finishing off our existing supply of polypropylene film, then we’ll become – as far as we know – the first ‘frozen treat’ company to use compostable film to wrap its products,” says Karis. As a part of this move, LICKALIX will be able to display the ‘Plastic Free’ consumer trust mark on its packaging certified by A Plastic Planet.
The change in packaging started with the search for a new (and better) flow wrapper. “The controls on our previous flow wrapper were not automated or as smooth,” Karis recalls. “We wanted a better-quality, more reliable machine with faster setup and less downtime.”
From the point where the LICKALIX team met Ilapak at the PPMA Show in September 2018, the Ilapak team were not fazed by LICKALIX ' questions about wrapping with alternative materials so the project moved on quickly. “By December, we’d bought the machine, and it was installed in January,” she says. “Within three days, it was commissioned, up and running.”
The Smart flow wrapper is a fully PLC-controlled electronic machine with an easy-to-navigate human-machine interface (HMI), offering fast and clearly-signposted size change. The rotary-jaw wrapper can be tailored to meet customer requirements. In the case of LICKALIX, this included a specification for a stainless-steel build with low-friction surfaces at the infeed to suit frozen lollies which, if they are allowed to stick, will leave a residue.
“Changeover on the Ilapak machine is menu-driven, which was not the case on our previous flow wrapper,” says Karis. “What’s more, the compostable film is harder to handle, so we needed a system we could be sure was up to the job. For one thing, the sealing temperature tolerances can be set much tighter than on the old flow wrapper.”
Ilapak account manager Tony Bryant explains: “The Smart flow wrapper has the ability to store temperature, dwell-time and pressure settings to meet the specific needs of any number of films, including in this case a complex compostable structure.”
Problem-free running, with no unpleasant surprises, is especially important where frozen products are being wrapped in ambient temperatures, so that they can be returned quickly and efficiently to a refrigerated environment.
“Pre-installation trials at the Ilapak factory were important, so they were able to run the different films we use, and because ice lollies can, in any case, be hard to pack,” says Karis.
The flow wrapper is capable of speeds up to 100 packs per minute (ppm) handling the lollies, which are made in 75g and 63g variants, says LICKALIX. The company hopes to ramp up output towards the 100ppm level.
According to LICKALIX, its positive impressions of Ilapak were not just to do with the quality and versatility of the machinery it supplied. “One of the reasons we chose Ilapak was the level of support its team offered,” says Karis. It helps that Ilapak is very local to us, but the training they gave us, as well as their response on any other type of follow-up, has been superb.”
As a fully-automatic machine, the Smart flow wrapper is accessibly priced for start-ups and small businesses. In addition, on this occasion, Ilapak was able to help LICKALIX out with flexible commercial terms.
Improving the efficiency of other parts of the production process is LICKALIX’ first priority, but Karis says she can foresee a time when further Ilapak flow wrapping capacity could be required.
The company sells its lollies through Ocado, as well as health food chains Planet Organic, Wholefoods and As Nature Intended. They are also on the children’s menu at Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie’s Italian’ restaurants, and sold through many of their 800+ retailers across the country such as cafés, leisure centres, and independent outlets.
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